Recommended byNY Times
A long-lost French novel in which three soldiers return home from an unpopular, unspeakable war
When On Leave was published in Paris in 1957, as France's engagement in Algeria became ever more bloody, it told people things they did not want to hear. It vividly described what it was like for soldiers to return home from an unpopular war in a faraway place. The book received a handful of reviews, it was never reprinted, it disappeared from view. With no outcome to the war in sight, its power to disturb was too much to bear.
Through David Bellos's translation, this lost classic has been rediscovered. Spare, forceful, and moving, it describes a week in the lives of a sergeant, a corporal, and an infantryman, each home on leave in Paris. What these soldiers have to say can't be heard, can't even be spoken; they find themselves strangers in their own city, unmoored from their lives. Full of sympathy and feeling, informed by the many hours Daniel Anselme spent talking to conscripts in Paris, On Leave is a timeless evocation of what the history books can never record: the shame and the terror felt by men returning home from war.
About Daniel AnselmeSee more books from this Author
This new translation of author and journalist Anselme’s first novel (his second and last was 1964’s Relations) not only introduces the English-speaking world to a forgotten classic, little-read since its 1957 debut, it fills the surprising silence in French literature regarding the Algerian War.Read Full Review of On Leave: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly
Anselme’s 1957 “On Leave” — now translated by the estimable David Bellos — follows three soldiers in Paris on a 10-day leave. In style and particularly in spirit, it resembles the early works of Aldous Huxley...with their combination of lightness and intellect, their strong ethics and unexpected tenderness.Read Full Review of On Leave: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times
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